Chinese Brands Embrace Screenless TVs

Innovative technologies for displaying video without a glass panel are poised to offer consumers a new viewing experience and the opportunity to reinvent living room design, according to a new report from U.K.-based market research firm Futuresource Consulting.

The trend has already taken hold in the Chinese market, which accounts for 20 percent of the global TV market, where there is substantial demand for “screenless TVs,” an umbrella term for laser TVs—ultra/short-throw projectors designed to be placed inches from the screen—and smart projectors.

Futuresource expects Hisense, Inovel, XGIMI, JmGO, and other Chinese brands to break into the U.S. market encouraging at least one major consumer electronics manufacturer to follow suit.

"Chinese companies are creating beautiful, innovative designs and there's been a groundswell of development from them over the past couple of years which shows no signs of stopping," said Futuresource analyst Claire Kerrison. "The next stage of strategic growth for these companies is international expansion."

While not likely to erode the massive market share of the traditional LCD TV any time soon, Futuresource estimates “screenless TVs” will account for 75 percent of global sales of home projectors over the next four years.

Brands moving into this area are doing so in part due to concerns over the long-term profitability of the flat panel TV market. Hisense has claimed that projection is the future of the main home display and that it could "overthrow" LCD TVs.

"Screenless TV solutions offer an array of benefits that cannot be matched by flat-panel TVs: flexibility, a low-cost 100-inch display, mobility to different locations, and reduced eye-strain," Kerrison said. "Moreover, laser TVs offer consumers a new concept of content viewing—one that could easily be coupled, and potentially become synonymous, with the rise of the connected home."

Futuresource attributes the recent surge in demand of screenless TVs to their sleek, modern design rather than functionality.

"Chinese brands have a refreshing new take on projectors, marketing them more as 'entertainment systems' that add to a living room's aesthetics than just a mere display solution," Kerrison said. "They have not only created stylish designs but these companies have the capacity and resources to build the sales channels and promote these innovative products aggressively and at scale."